A BRITISH businessman is seriously ill in an Andalucian prison having been accused of drug smuggling.
Robert Anthony Mansfield-Hewitt, 51, was arrested after police swooped on his rental home during a short business trip to Gibraltar two months ago.
The consultant engineer, who insists he is innocent, has yet to be charged over the 1.5 tonnes of hashish police found in the garage of the villa he rented.
He insists he has absolutely ‘no connection’ to the drugs that were being stored at the rental in Campamento, in San Roque.
The owner of the villa, the Olive Press understands, was charged last September for the importation and possession of cocaine with intent to supply the substance in Gibraltar last year.
He is believed to be ‘laying low’ on the Rock.
In the case, that has strange parallels to the plight of Scottish student Robbie McMiller, Mansfield-Hewitt was woken up and ‘dragged out of bed practically naked at gunpoint’ by police officers at 8.30pm on June 27.
Colleagues and friends told the Olive Press that Mansfield-Hewitt, who has a PhD in physics and no criminal record, is an ‘innocent man’ and has been wrongfully imprisoned.
They added that the Chichester-based engineer is currently in a critical condition and is being held in the medical wing at Botafuegos prison in Algeciras – a dangerous jail, which notoriously houses a number of Basque ETA terrorists.
The Brit, a consultant at electrical company Genco Holdings Ltd in Gibraltar, who regularly travels to the Rock, suffers from severe liver disease Ascites and walks with a cane.
His PA, Pilar June Ford, 54, said she was ‘horrified’ when she received a call from her boss screaming at La Linea police station.
She told the Olive Press: “He was at the station shouting ‘please help me, help me, bring me clothes, there’s loads of drugs in the house.’ It was horrible.
“I rushed there with a huge bag of medication, which he needs to take daily for his illness.”
After spending two days in a cell, he appeared in front of a judge at San Roque court before being sent to Botafuegos prison.
Ford is concerned he has not been receiving the correct medication, after he collapsed in shock as his ‘body started to shut down’ on the way to prison.
He was rushed to ICU at Hospital Punta de Europa where his survival chances were described as ‘touch and go’.
“The doctor said he hadn’t been given his medication and his liver was functioning at just 15%. His heartbeat was almost non-existent and he was delirious.”
His lawyer Jose Maria Castro Escudero believes he is now being administered the correct medication, but still remains in a critical condition and is ‘psychologically’ traumatised.
The nightmare began after police were alerted to the stash after following a man of Moroccan nationality, who pulled up outside the property and attempted to get into the garage.
Police found 48 packets of hashish weighing around 33 kilos each, or almost 1.5 tonnes.
If found guilty he could be sentenced to up to six years in a Spanish prison.
According to his lawyer he is ‘fighting every day to free Robert’ and get him bail, meaning he would likely have to report to police once a month while he awaits his trial.
The lawyer revealed that a judge is set to visit Mansfield-Hewitt this week and will make a decision following the meeting.
Escudero told the paper: “He doesn’t have anything to do with this. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“They don’t have a single piece of evidence that links him to the drugs, only that he was nearby.
“There’s no photo or CCTV footage that shows him going into the garage and he didn’t have a car.”
Meanwhile, the villa owner, who is believed to be Gibraltarian, has not been arrested and is believed to be lying low on the Rock.
The other guest staying at the property that night was also arrested, yet it is unclear if he had any knowledge of the stash in the garage.
Friend of 20 years and Church of England Vicar, Rebekah Cannon, 41, described Mansfield-Hewitt as a ‘very vulnerable character’ and told the paper that the family – including his 94-year-old mother – have been unable to have any contact with him in prison.
RAF Padre, Cannon, added: “They are in shock and disbelief – it’s difficult because they are so far away. It all seems rather unbelievable.
“I’ve never known him to be involved in anything like this before. It would be very out of character. He’s a very vulnerable person.
“My concern is that he’s very ill. His health relies on his medication. Regardless of his incarceration he is a human being and needs his medication.”
A spokesperson for the British Consulate told the Olive Press: “We are assisting a British man following his arrest in Cádiz in July, and our staff are in contact with the Spanish police.”
Police failed to comment in time for press.
It comes after an investigation by the Olive Press last year revealed how young Scot Robbie McMiller was arrested for four marijuana plants found in a holiday property he was renting, also in the La Linea area.
He is still stuck in Spain as he awaits his day in court.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated Robert Mansfield-Hewitt booked the rental apartment through Airbnb. Although the property had been available on the rental site, he did not book it through Airbnb. The property listing has since been deleted from the site and Airbnb said they were ‘investigating’ the owner’s account.